MODE: your way of doing life

YOUR MODE is one of the key elements of your personality makeup. It defines your general approach to life, your acting style or modus operandi. There are seven basic options: Aggression, Passion, Power, Observation, Perseverance, Caution, and Repression.

What is the MODE?

[By way of background into the personality structure, see Overleaves: the structure of personality]

While the Goal is the motivating force of personality, the Mode is the method or approach that is taken to reach it.

Your Mode defines how you act rather than why. If your Goal is your preferred destination in life, your Mode is your preferred way of getting there — like a mode of transport, the means to an end. It is your outward approach to doing life, how you go about getting what you want out of life.

By way of example, the approach I normally to use is to commit to a course of action and doggedly stick to it (Mode of Perseverance), while the approach used by my wife is to carefully figure out every detail of a course of action in advance (Mode of Caution). So in our household, she tends to do the meticulous planning and I then do the donkey work. 🙂

Along with the Goal and Attitude, the Mode is one of the key components of your true character, your true personality. And as your characteristic pattern or style of acting, your Mode is also the most visible aspect of your personality as it directly affects your output, your behaviour.

The seven Modes

As with all “overleaves” or character structures, there are seven possible types of Mode — seven ways of approaching your life Goal.

The seven Modes with their positive and negative variants are as follows:


1 Repression Reserve / Restraint Inhibition
2 Caution Deliberation Aversion
3 Perseverance Persistence Immutability
4 Observation Clarity Surveillance
5 Power Authority Oppression
6 Passion Self-actualisation Identification
7 Aggression Dynamism Belligerence


The seven Modes are not equally prevalent. In fact, about half the population uses the Mode of Observation:

As ever, the seven options represent three pairs of opposites (the Action, Expression and Inspiration pairs) plus one neutral option (Assimilation).

Sliding between Modes

Although our personality structures are pretty much fixed for a lifetime, we all have the ability to periodically move in and out of our specific types and, for a while, experience using an alternative type. Moving between specific types is known as sliding — though I would say that, based on my experience, we could also call it flipping.

The Mode is probably easiest the personality structure to slide with.

In my case, for example, my Mode is Perseverance but I do frequently slide to the other action mode which is Aggression. So I spend most of the day in my slow-but-sure Mode of Perseverance, going at life like an old workhorse pulling a cart, but every now and then I will flip into the Mode of Aggression — like a hurricane suddenly appearing in the kitchen (my wife calls it my “Bish-Bash-Bosh!” mode).

Sliding is easiest and most effective between opposite types on the same dimension.

The modes of Aggression and Perseverance are both action modes. On the expression dimension we have Power and Caution. If you are normally in one Mode you can easily slide to the other.  You might have the outgoing Mode of Power, for example, but occasionally slide into Caution to plan ahead before acting.

Sliding is useful because it can get you out of a stuck place, where you are getting stuck in the negative pole of your Mode.

Let’s say, for example, you have the Mode of Passion. In the negative pole, you get completely lost in the emotions of the activity and lose sight of yourself and what it’s all about.  The way out is to slide into reserve or restraint, the positive pole of Repression. In other words, you flip from being totally invested in the activity (but lost) to being totally detached from it — which is in fact easier to do than to detach slightly or detach gradually. The emotional detachment of the Mode of Repression then gives you opportunity to disidentify from your activity and look at it objectively.

This is one example of sliding between Modes.

The Modes in detail

So, let’s now go through them in turn.

Aggression and Perseverance

The action pair, Aggression and Perseverance, are focused on getting results in the outer world.

They both take the approach of applying effort to ensure a definite outcome, but in opposite ways: a person with the Mode of Aggression acts with explosive force which tends to ensure immediate impact, while a person with the Mode of Perseverance acts with dogged persistence which gets there in the end despite opposition or difficulty.

Aggression is useful for getting things done really quickly and effectively; Perseverance is useful when you have to deal with long-term difficulty, such as repeated failure or outer resistance.




  • Nothing stands in my way!
  • Going for the greatest immediate impact; high energy action; punching through obstacles.
  • I will never give up.
  • Applying constant effort to the bitter end; staying with it, come what may, however long it takes.

+ Dynamism

  • Acting at full throttle; vigourous, go-ahead, spunky, feisty; an irresistible force of nature.

+ Persistence

  • Steadfast determination, maintaining a course of action despite resistance/difficulty.

— Belligerence

  • Acting overly-assertive; on the offensive; bulldozing; intimidating others to get your own way.

— Immutability

  • Acting inflexibly, entrenched, unwilling to alter an ineffective course of action.


Passion and Repression

The inspiration Modes, Passion and Repression (also known as reservation), are not so much about the outward action as the inner emotional experience of moving into action.

Both Passion and Repression take the approach of optimising that experience, but in opposite ways.

A person with the Mode of Passion invests wholeheartedly in their activity, keeping the full range of emotions up front, immersing themselves in the intensity of the moment. With Passion you can be completely in the flow, which is an uplifting experience.

On the other hand, a person with the Mode of Repression removes personal feelings and desires from their own activity, keeps themselves contained, achieves a high level of self-discipline. In other words, they rise completely above their own emotional tendencies.

(Note ~ The Freudian of notion of repression means blocking certain feelings from your own awareness; here it simply means preventing feelings from interfering with your ability to act.)

Passion is useful when you want your way of acting to call upon your emotional energies, as in inspirational speaking for example. Repression is useful when you want to act with quiet grace and perfect self-control, as in ballet.




  • I’m totally into this!
  • Investing emotionally in the process itself, making the action a very intense and personal experience.
  • Dignity at all times.
  • Blocking personal feelings from the process, keeping it impersonal; acting with perfect self-discipline.

+ Self-Actualization

  • Acting with deep involvement of one’s inner being; accessing latent talents and potentialities.

+ Reserve

  • Acting with inner focus and self-containment, achieving grace, elegance, perfection.

— Identification

  • Excessive involvement; fanaticism; unable to detach oneself from the process or see oneself objectively.

— Inhibition

  • Excessive self-blocking, unable to act at all.


Power and Caution

The expression modes, Power and Caution, both focus on the mental certainty and confidence with which we act in the world, but in opposite ways.

A person with the Mode of Power acts (and speaks) with great certainty, loud and clear, as though they alway knows exactly what to do in any given situation. Even when they are just making it up as they go along, they still have (and express) huge confidence in their own approach.

As a display of certainty and confidence, the Mode of Power is attention-grabbing. It tends to attract followers who are willing to trust this person’s every word. For this reason, it can be mistaken for the Goal of Dominance or even the King soul archetype. However, the King soul embodies an inherently confident and authoritative way of being that runs deep, whereas Mode of Power is a more surface-level approach to undertaking actions.

Likewise, the Goal of Dominance reflects a constant desire to lead, with or without confidence, whereas the Mode of Power reflects a confident, risk-taking approach to any life Goal. In a nutshell — the Mode of Power approaches life confidently; the Goal of Dominance seeks power. (It is of course possible for someone to have both Goal of Dominance and Mode of Power in their personality make-up. Examples include Julius Caesar, G.I. Gurdjieff, Al Capone, L. Ron Hubbard.)

When this display of certainty comes from a true self-confidence in their own abilities, fine. When it is nothing but an act, however, it can easily lead others astray.

A person with the Mode of Caution, on the other hand, is highly sensitive to uncertainty, or lack of knowledge about what lies ahead. They like to gather key information before acting so that they can painstakingly plan and rehearse each step of the performance. They finally walk out onto the stage, as it were, once they feel sufficiently confident about their performance.

Power Mode is useful for those in leadership roles where they are expected to demonstrate self-confidence to others. Caution Mode is useful for roles where it is important to minimise the risk of failure, though the social fear of being seen to fail can become debilitating.




  • Trust me, I know exactly what to do!
  • Acting with breezy confidence and certainty, particularly in public, so attracting the attention of others.
  • I need to be absolutely sure before I do anything.
  • Acting with concern for risk and uncertainty, not acting until sufficiently confident.

+ Authority

  • Coming from a sense of inner authority; bold, impressive, charismatic; emanating true confidence in one’s own knowledge and abilities.

+ Deliberation

  • Carefully gathering information and planning ahead to reduce risks; prudent, shrewd, forward-thinking.

— Oppression

  • Asserting absolute certainty without reason; forward, overconfident, overpowering; “I’m always right.

— Aversion

  • Intolerance of uncertainty; indecisive, over-anxious, hesitant, stuck; paralysis by analysis.



The assimilation Mode, Observation, provides a neutral option. This Mode is not about  taking any consistent long-term approach to doing stuff. Rather, it is the “mode of no mode”, just watching what happens in the short term, observing more than participating.

As such, this is the most flexible and pragmatic Mode to have since it allow you to adapt on the fly.

There are interesting side-effects for those having the Observation Mode. One is that they tend not to stand out in any particular way in terms of moving into action, but just seem to blend into the background. On the other hand, another side-effect is that by paying so much close attention to what is going on, they do seem to be very present and interested, in a quiet sort of way.

A Scholar soul with the Mode of Observation will be even more of a non-participant in life, very quietly watching everything from the sidelines.



  • You go ahead, I’ll watch.
  • Passive but alert, more reactive than proactive, attentive but otherwise uninvolved.

+ Clarity

  • Vigilant; observant; able to anticipate what will happen in the given situation.

— Surveillance

  • Excessive observation without participation; scanning the environment verging on paranoia.


7 thoughts on “MODE: your way of doing life

  1. could it be that i spend half my life in passion mode and then go thru repression coz of excessive passion…? u r very interesting… thank u 🙂

    • Hi, Anju,

      Yes, a lot of us flip will often between one polarity and the other:

      passion < --> repression
      power < ---> caution
      aggression < ---> perseverance
      observation < ---> (anything will do)

      Not so much 50/50 though, more like 70/30 or 80/20. Usually we get – as you say – into an excess of one so we cross over to the other end of the pole and find some relief in the opposite way of acting.

      My main mode is Perseverance, so I mostly I just quietly get on with whatever needs doing, no matter what stands in the way, but occasionally I flip into a more manic and ferocious style of Aggression, especially when doing housework for some reason…

  2. This was an awesome read. It was more of an affirmation of my actions. In reading this it was brought to my mind, my work life and home life. At work I feel I am repressive. At home I know I am passionate, in regards to exploring my artsy self and my relationships. I just never realized the duality of it till now. So, now that I am aware of it I can perfect it even more.

    By the way, I want to share with you Barry. That, I have literally been on a mission reading every single article on your website since I came across it, when I was googling the soul progression. I even bought the first volume of ‘The Michael Teachings; The Legacy of Sara Chambers’ and started reading it. Also realized im an Artisian soul most definitely. Its been so inspiring to read all of this.

    I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to put all this out here. You have helped me so, so much. So, thank you again.


    • So great to hear from you, Troy, and to know that this information is of as much value to others as it has been to me.
      Cheers 🙂

  3. Hi barry, do you know how to let go hate from heart? few months ago hate came to my heart and i can’t feel love, passion, fear or desire any more – only hate. Do you have some understanding or readings that can help person to remove hate from heart?

    I know that hate is oposite to love, but that don’t helping me mutch. I’m looking for some practices for some “how to’s”.

  4. Hi Barry,

    You suggested Perseverance, which definitely resonates with me. I think I may be in Aggression mode, though (but I’d buy an argument either way, I identify with both!). My default seems to be to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest time possible (it’s particularly annoying when I walk along the street), and people wonder how it is that I do everything in my life so fast. Definitely guilty of getting angry and degenerating into combat (with the world, not usually people or anything).

    I also think Aggression is the primary mode because I feel distinct shifts where I drop all plans and just say, NO, I am going to FINISH this! I’m apparently thought of as inflexible for this reason, but I really experience a phenomenon where my energy shifts down and I dig in.

    Can you slide into your opposite pole long-term? I feel like I’ve been dug in for about 3.5 out of the last 5 years due to difficult circumstances. I’ve almost forgotten what it means to move quickly, actually. And that’s disconcerting.

    • Regarding your Point A to Point B experiences, that’s all about efficiency and cause and effect, doing what works best, right?
      That might be more indicative of you being a Pragmatist Attitude than anything. Pragmatists navigate and see life by thinking, feeling, doing what works. They can be very rooted in their perceptions of what works for them in inflexible+dogged ways, but also in practical, adaptable and helpful ways.

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